Have you ever been in a pickle over parts for your vintage Ford like courtesy lights for your '65-'68 Mustang fastback or front disc brakes for your '63 Galaxie? So have we. This is when thoughts turn to interchangeability of parts. What fits? What doesn't? And how can we do it cheaper? We have looked to our own experiences, plus feedback from our readers, to come up with some of the most popular component swaps going in the world of Fordom.
You may sigh on this one, but it remains one of the most popular swaps going. One of the quickest and cheapest ways to get more power from your 289/302ci engine is early 351W cylinder heads ('69-'71). They're plentiful and cheap. You can find them at virtually any junkyard or swap meet. It doesn't take a credit card with high limits to get into them. And all you have to do is clean them up and bolt them on. At the most, you might have to do a valve job. In theory, you can bolt them right on and gain power immediately. Ideally, your 289/302 will have flat-top pistons to help compression because 351W heads have larger 60cc chambers. Milling them will reduce chamber size and increase compression ratio.
We suggest sticking with early 351W heads due to chamber size, plus later-model 351W engines had 302 heads. Don't get tripped up on this one.
If you have a need for staggered rear shocks on your Mustang and aren't sure how to get there, look no further than the '70-'77 Ford Maverick and Mercury Comet for solutions. Staggered rear shocks were standard on many of the '69-'70 Cobra Jet, Boss 302, and Boss 429 Mustangs. Few know they were also standard on economy cars like the Maverick and Comet. Visit your local salvage yard and get busy.
There are any number of ways to eliminate your Ford's external voltage regulator and go with a single-wire alternator. One way is to fit your Ford with a Delco alternator from the GM camp. The conversion process is relatively simple, and can be accomplished with simple handtools. We eliminate the Autolite/Motorcraft voltage regulator with a couple of simple splices, then we go with the Delcotron alternator. This can be accomplished with a late-model Ford Nippondenso alternator as well. The choice is yours, depending on your needs. If using a GM part on your Ford is troubling, consider the '70-'71 Ford 429-4V big-block, fitted from the factory with a Rochester Quadrajet carburetor, or the '71-'73 Mustang which used the Saginaw steering box from over at the GM camp. Other Fords produced during the '70s had Frigidaire air-conditioning compressors. Your Ford will function nicely with a Delcotron alternator.
The 9-inch Ford rear axle has always been a desirable piece for enthusiasts seeking a reliable performance rearend. This big guy is a bolt-in swap for a lot of applications. Your greatest concern needs to be flange-to-flange dimension, which will determine fit. Spring-pad-to-spring-pad dimension is also critical. Get these dimensions from your 8-inch Ford, then get looking. Also keep lug bolt circle in mind while you are searching. Lincolns, to name one big Ford, have a larger 5-inch bolt circle, which won't fit your Ford's wheels in many applications.
If you have your heart set on a set of Boss 302 connecting rods because they are stronger, consider the facts. The Boss 302 connecting rod is the same C3OE forging installed in the 221ci, 260ci, and 289ci engines between '62 and '67. What makes the Boss 302 rod different is rod-bolt size. If you simply must have Boss 302 rods, have your machine shop shot-peen a set of 289 rods and fit them with 3/8-inch ARP bolts. You'll then have the equivalent of the Boss 302 connecting rod in your 289.
If you're spent over rock-hard, uncomfortable bucket seats in your '65-'67 Mustang, take heart because a lot of people feel the same way. When it comes to seating in a classic Mustang, you do have a choice. Did you know that high-back, comfortable, to-die-for '69-'73 Mustang, Cougar, Fairlane, Torino, Montego, Cyclone, Maverick, or Comet bucket seats will bolt right into your classic Mustang? And did you know these seats will also, with only minor modifications to the floorpan, bolt into a Falcon or Comet? This is a super-comfy swap you can live with. We have also seen some evidence that Fox-body Mustang bucket seats will bolt into a '65-'70 Mustang with only minor modifications. We invite your feedback on this one, readers.
A Mount For Your Mount
Did you know the '66-and-up small-block engine frame mount will bolt right into your '65 Mustang, Falcon, or Comet? This mount is a significant improvement over the drop-in, single-pin mount common in '65 and very early '66 Mustangs. The mount shown here isolates engine noise and vibration better. It also allows the engine to sit lower in the chassis.
Big Drum Beat
The Fairlane folks came to us with this one. Fairlane station wagons were equipped with wider rear drum brakes between '62 and '67. This means better stopping power should you happen to find a set. Fit these wider guys on your Mustang, Falcon, or Comet and enjoy the benefits of better braking efficiency.
Did you know the '67-'68 Mustang blow-molded windshield-washer reservoir makes a great coolant-recovery reservoir? This is one of those "why didn't we think of this?" swaps. This reservoir mounts virtually anywhere in an engine compartment or in a fenderwell.
What's more, it looks great.
Five-Dial Worth Your While
Most of us who love classic Mustangs like the groovy five-dial instrument panel Ford brought to the Mustang beginning in March 1965. In 1965, it was a Mustang option, available only with the GT Equipment Group or Interior Decor Group.
Otherwise, it was the lackluster Falcon instrument panel. This five-dial cluster became standard equipment for '66 in the Mustang. The real beauty behind this cluster isn't its full-function design, nor the soft green-glow after dusk. It is its ability to fit nicely in a '64-'65 Falcon as well, following the same means you do with a Mustang.
If you have a Ford or Mercury prior to '67, it suffers from a serious shortcoming--no brakes when the hydraulic system fails. Beginning in 1967, the federal government mandated dual hydraulic braking systems for all U.S.-delivered motor vehicles. A dual-braking system keeps the front and rear braking systems separate, just in case one of the systems fails. These systems are divided at the master cylinder and beyond with a distribution block that keeps them separate. A warning light switch lets us know when either system fails. Don't you owe yourself, and others, this level of safety? This is an easy modification we can all live with.
Cheap Mount Tip
Did you know the '67 Mustang and Cougar with the 289 V-8 used a different engine mount than '66 and '68-'70? Although this mount may look the same at a glance, it employs a different geometry than a '66 or '68-'70. Ford, in its infinite wisdom, changed the Mustang/Cougar engine mount for '67 only. To add insult to injury, a '67 Mustang/Cougar engine mount is very expensive compared to its '66 or '68-'70 counterpart. The nice thing about this engine-mount business is swapability. You can remove the '67 engine-mount bracket from your Mustang or Cougar and toss it into the metal recycling bin in a fit of insanity, then find yourself a '66 or '68-'70 Mustang/Cougar small-block mount bracket set for your '67 Mustang or Cougar. Then, go smile at your parts guy and ask for '68 Mustang small-block engine mounts, which cost less than half the amount of a '67 mount.
It's Got Cold Air!
Have you ever fumbled with a '65-'67 289 V-8 air-conditioning compressor mount and thought to yourself, There surely must be a better way? There is. Beginning in late '67 into '68, Ford went to an easy-to-adjust, simple-to-swap, air-conditioning-compressor mount for small-block Fords. Belt adjustment is a cinch. And there's virtually no belt chatter.
Lincoln Rear Disc Brakes
This one is so easy, you won't believe it. Did you know '84-'88 Lincoln Mark VII rear disc brakes will swap onto your vintage 8-inch or 9-inch rear axle? They do, and they improve stopping power with fade-resistant, disc-brake technology. Check it out!
John Smith of Akron, Ohio, and 7-Litre Galaxie fame called us with this one. If you have a vintage fullsize Ford or Mercury, find yourself a mid-'70s vintage LTD II, Thunderbird, or Cougar and grab the front disc brakes. They bolt right onto a '60s fullsize Ford or Mercury.
Serpentine Belt Drive
Here's a swap you can sink your teeth into. Visit the salvage yard and find yourself a late-model For or Mercur with a serpentine accessory belt drive. This system uses a single, serpentine belt to drive all accessories. This means never having to fool with multiple vee-belts ever again. Don't bother with '79-'81 vee-belt, serpentine-belt combos which still offer the same headaches. Go all the way with the single serpentine belt drive more common in the mid-'80s and up.
Column Of Choice
If you own and drive a pre-'68 Ford or Mercury with a solid-shaft steering column, you likely wonder about your vulnerability in an accident. That solid-steering column will not collapse, leaving you exposed to the dangers of torso injury and death in an accident. With only minor modifications, you can install a '68-'69 Ford/Mercury steering column in your pre-'68 vehicle. You will need the column, of course, rag joint, and short-shaft steering gear for this swap. Installed properly, it can save your life.
Those of you with '65-'68 Mustangs and 16-gallon fuel tanks who want more range can get it by installing a 21-gallon '69-'70 Mustang/Cougar fuel tank. The 21-gallon tank drops right in place of your 16-gallon tank. If you're discouraged by the different fuel-filler neck angle, don't be. You can alter the angle of the tank's fuel neck by simply bending the short, stubby neck with a length of exhaust tubing or the like. The tank's flexible galvanized steel will bend to the same angle as the '65-'68 fuel-filler neck. No foolin'.
Did you know you can upgrade your vintage 289 or 302 to 5.0L SEFI fuel delivery? Just contact Ron Morris Performance, (209) 605-1590, for more details and the components necessary to make this swap work on your vintage iron. You'll need to find the basic package in a salvage yard--upper and lower intake manifolds, fuel rails and injectors, O2 sensor bungs, engine harness, and the like to get started. Ron Morris Performance can help you with the rest.